CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST "F BUSH" PROTESTER
By Peter Duveen
PETER'S NEW YORK, June 12,
2008--Charges of disorderly conduct were dropped yesterday against a
Queensbury, New York man who was arrested in March because he exhibited
a sign with an expletive in front of the name of U.S. President George
But the Glens Falls, N.Y. police, who in arresting Eric Schmidt, 21,
stopped him from engaging in lawful protest, appeared unrepentant,
according to published reports, and left open the possibility that they
would continue a program of harassment against Schmidt.
"What he was doing was protected political speech in a public area,"
The Post Star of Glens Falls quoted Warren County District Attorney
Kate Hogan as saying. Hogan agreed to a motion filed by Schmidt's
attorney, Tucker Stanclift, to drop the disorderly conduct charge
before Judge Richard Tarantino, according to The Post-Star report.
But Glens Falls police captain Kevin Conine, who was the arresting
officer in Schmidt's case, appeared to be unrepentant, in spite of
impeding and subjecting to public embarrassment an innocent man who was
exercising his right to free speech. Conine said that in arresting
Schmidt, the police were responding to
complaints by motorists, according to the Post-Star report. Conine did
not say, however, how such complaints constituted grounds for arrest.
Instead of affirming that Schmidt's rights would be protected during
future protests, Conine said: "We'll just have to deal with it on a
case-by-case basis," thus leaving the threat of arrest over the head of
the Queensbury man in the event he continues to exercise his free
speech rights in public.
Schmidt was arrested in March after he
carried a sign with an expletive in front of President Bush's name. His
protest took place on the sidewalk at a well-traveled traffic circle in
downtown Glens Falls. City police confiscated Schmidt's sign, and
when he asked for the sign back, arrested him.
The March arrest was Schmidt's second in which the charges were
dropped. An earlier arrest led to Schmidt's detention for more than a
day, Schmidt told PETER'S NEW YORK, but that case was also dismissed.
The Post-Star report did not explore the issue of whether the two
arrests constituted a conspiracy to harass Schmidt on the part of the
Glens Falls police department. But it appeared from statements
published in The Post Star that Schmidt did not contemplate a lawsuit
against the department for wrongful arrest at this time.
"His rights were clearly violated," Schmidt's attorney was quoted as
saying. "I hope they understand the right to free speech isn't
something that should be taken lightly."
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